‘Blood Libel’: Israel Pressures BBC to Call Hamas ‘Terrorist Organization’

Israel is putting pressure on BBC to call Hamas a ‘terrorist organization’. (Image: PC)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The British state broadcaster has stood by its decision not to label Hamas a “terrorist organization”.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog has asked British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to help push the state broadcaster, the BBC, to label Hamas a “terror organization.”

The calls come after a UK minister accused the BBC of “blood libel,” when a BBC correspondent speculated that Israel was behind the bombing of a Gaza hospital.

Speaking during a joint press conference with Sunak in Jerusalem on Thursday, Herzog said that “the way the BBC characterizes Hamas is a distortion of the facts.” 

The Palestinian group is “one of the worst terror organizations,” Herzog continued, telling Sunak that while the British PM “cannot intervene, per se,” the BBC is “known as Britain” all around the world, and “there has to be an outcry so that there will be a correction.”

“What else do they need to see to understand that this is an atrocious terror organization?” Herzog concluded.

Sunak did not mention the BBC in his response, but said that “we should call (Hamas’ attack on Israel) what it is – an act of terrorism perpetrated by an evil terrorist organization.”

However, Sunak’s office told The Independent that Culture Secretary Lucy Fraser has been in contact with BBC director-general Tim Davie on a “number of occasions” this week, and that she urged the broadcaster to “reflect on their coverage and learn lessons for the future.”

‘Militants’ vs ‘Terrorists’ 

The BBC has faced stiff criticism from Israeli commentators since the war began over its decision to label Hamas a “militant” rather than a “terrorist” organization. 

In a statement last week, the BBC explained that its policy is to always attribute words like “terrorist” to those using them, rather than to make that judgment itself.

“This is an approach that has been used for decades, and is in line with that of other broadcasters,” the BBC stated. 

“The BBC is an editorially independent broadcaster whose job is to explain precisely what is happening ‘on the ground’ so our audiences can make their own judgment.”

On Thursday, Israel’s official account on X accused the BBC of “modern blood libel” over correspondent Jon Donnison’s initial reporting on an explosion at a hospital in Gaza on Tuesday. 

This came after the British Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick used the same phrase the previous day.

Jenrick – a member of the Parliamentary Conservative Friends of Israel group – is married to an Israeli national.

The BBC said that Donnison was wrong to speculate, but that he never directly implicated Israeli forces in the attack.

Al-Ahli Bombing

Nearly 500 Palestinians were killed and hundreds more wounded when Israeli warplanes struck the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City. 

Israel had already bombed a section of the hospital a few days earlier and had warned many hospitals in the Strip that they would be bombed. 

Hospital administration, however, refused the Israeli orders due to the many lives that could be lost if thousands of injured were evacuated, especially that there are no safe spaces in Gaza. 

Other hospitals were directly hit, like the Durra and Indonesian hospitals, while the vicinities of the European and other hospitals were also bombed by Israel. 

Israel also bombed schools, UN shelters, mosques and a church in Gaza, leading to the death and wounding of hundreds. 

Over 3,800 Palestinians were killed and over 13,000 were wounded since Israel launched a massive bombing campaign on Gaza on October 7. 

(PC, RT)

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